Tips and tricks: Page templates

We know how hard you work to get your pages just so: a lot of thought goes into how you arrange pages for lesson plans or project briefs, and a lot of work goes into building those pages. Page templates are a great way to make all that planning go farther without any extra work.

So what are page templates, exactly?
A “page template” is a special kind of wiki page. Just like any wiki page, you can edit it, put text and images on it, embed widgets into it, save it — and then go back to edit it some more later. But it’s special because you can use a page template as a foundation for as many new pages as you would like.

What can I do with page templates?
Most new wiki pages are empty by default. But if you use a template when you’re making a new page, that page will already be filled with whatever text, images, widgets, and formatting you built into the template.

Say, for example, you have several groups of students working on a lab. You know that they’ll all be taking the same steps, and recording the same kinds of observations. Create a template called Lab Notebook. Then, when the students are ready to create new pages to keep their records, they can start a lab notebook page that you know will prompt them to record the right items in the right places.

Or say you are using your wiki to plan a conference. You’re going to have several different breakout sessions on each day, and you want to have individual pages for each breakout session. If you start by building a Breakout Session page template, you won’t have to bother formatting each page by time-consuming page. Just pick the template off the drop-down, and you’re ready to go.

Well, that makes sense. Now how do I use them?
Nothing could be simpler: go to Manage Wiki > Templates, and name your new template. If you want, you can build your template based on the content of a page that you’ve already done. Edit the page template the way you would edit any other page, and hit Save.

When you make a new page with the New Page link in the action bar, pick the template you want from the Use a Template drop-down. When you start a new page by following an existing link to a page that doesn’t exist yet, select the template from the drop-down list before you hit the Edit button. Either way, everything you built into the page template will already be on the page by the time you start editing.

If you ever want to make changes to one of your templates, go to Manage Wiki > Pages and find the template on the list. You can tell which pages are templates because it says so right in the page name: my Testing page template, for example, would be space.template.Testing. Changing a page template won’t do anything to any pages that already exist; it will just have those changes ready for the next time you use the template.

Let us know how your wiki uses page templates below or with an email to help@wikispaces.com.

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7 Comments

  1. Posted May 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Page templates are a great timesaving feature that your users will love. But here’s one quirk I wish I’d known about ahead of time:

    Some widgets, including Discussion Area, Page History, and List of Links, cite content on the *page template itself* and not the page created from that template. For example, a Page History widget will list all edits made to the template, and not the page on which it appears.

    Here’s are the steps to illustrate this:
    1. Create a page template with a “Discussion Area” widget at the bottom.
    2. Create a new page based on this template.
    3. Post to the discussion for that new page.
    4. The Discussion Area will remain empty because it is actually listing all the discussion posts attached to the *page template* and not the page it is actually in.

    This caught me off guard at first, until I figured it out. While this behavior makes technical sense, it is not practical, and I’m sure a workaround is already on the Wikispaces to-do list.

    Happy Wikispacing from UMass Boston.

  2. Posted May 14, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Hi Christian,

    Thanks for the feedback. This is indeed on our to-do list and we’re looking into fixing it.

    Cheers,
    Sarah

  3. Posted May 29, 2010 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Wikispaces make building pages very easily, but one thing I cannot do is make sub-pages. For example, if I want my students to introduce themselves and then ask our partner schools to do the same, it would be great if there was an entry page which had links to each school. But we wouldn’t want every page in the main menu or it would get very, very long and make navigation too time-consuming. Any ideas?

  4. Debbie
    Posted June 4, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi Abs,

    We can send you instructions for creating subpages on a wiki. To get the instructions please e-mail us at help@wikispaces.com and mention that you want to make sub-pages.

    Cheers,
    Debbie

  5. Posted June 7, 2010 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Do you have a sample of how this has been used? Sounds great!

  6. Posted June 9, 2010 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    I’d be grateful if you could send me information about how to create sub-pages and any other interesting tricks for our wikies.
    I’ve got another problem. If there are too many videos or songs uploaded from youtube on a page in which there are also some other links, it sometimes takes too long to load de page. The only solution I’ve found is to create a link only for them. Is there any other solution?
    Thanks for all your help
    See you,
    Ane

  7. Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    How do you make folders to put pages in? Are these the same as sub pages?
    Susan

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